Friday, August 9, 2013

The Birds and the Bees

As I waited for the bus today, I noticed several bumblebees visiting flowers around the bus stop. I was pleased because they chose to do things the old-fashioned way instead of visiting the garbage cans at Moore Square like I've seen hundreds of bees do. I saw an article in The Independent Magazine about honey and how bees in different counties make different color honey depending on the local flora. I wondered what color trash-borne honey is.

As part of my ritual lately, I've been buying a morning sandwich from a local convenience store with my meager Food Stamp money ($200/month, which doesn't go far when you buy $3.00 sandwiches), which may be in danger of not being filled this month because of glitches in the Food Stamp software North Carolina uses.

Part of the ritual with the sandwiches is I share the crust with the birds that gather at Moore Square. I do this partly because I've had half my teeth removed and the other half will be removed shortly. Vocation Rehab came through on that necessity. Anyway, getting back to the birds: They know who I am, and they've been watching for me. Often one or several will see me and fly down in anticipation. This is fine when I have crust to share, but when they see me in the afternoon, I don't have such gifts. I feel so bad for them.

Yesterday, there was literally a whole flock of them waiting for me. It was a bright morning and their shadows against a wall made it seem like there were twice as many there. They had quite a battle for my crusts.

It occurred to me then, that the homeless men I see all the time aren't so different. They're waiting for a handout, and when they get it, they battle for position and possession. I've seen food brought out into the cafeteria, some extra food donated by one group or another, and a seemingly empty cafeteria will suddenly fill, and the food will be gone in seconds - literally.

Even for the regular scheduled meal times, people will jockey for position as they wait for the food to be served. The usual method of waiting is to sit on the bench leading to the door to the kitchen. People will not just sit on the bench, but around the bench too, rather than stand in line with the other, more patient people. I have to say, that irks me. In all the time I've been coming to SWSC, they've never run out of food during feeding time, even if the food sucks. What difference does it make if you get in the front or not? If they try to stand in front of me, they get an earful.

But in the end, we all get fed, and I do my share to feed the birds and bees too. But I have to say I'm really looking forward to leaving the shelter, hopefully for the last time.